Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Separating Fact from Fiction: An Analysis of Venezuela’s Military Power

[Exercises like those carried out with the Russian navy in November 2008 are good for morale, and also helps mold the Venezuelan military into an authentic regional power, though certainly not a hemispheric security threat, given its still very limited capacity to project its force.]

Separating Fact from Fiction: An Analysis of Venezuela’s Military Power

May 13th 2009, by Alex Sánchez - COHA

Following the recently concluded Summit of the Americas held April 17-19, in Trinidad and Tobago, President Barack Obama claimed that the U.S. defense budget was 600 times greater than that of Venezuela. While it is true that, in conventional warfare, a Venezuelan victory over this country is totally beyond any credulity, the question remains regarding how much relative military strength does Venezuela actually project. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is widely acknowledged as having carried out an aggressive policy of military acquisitions in recent years, which has had far-reaching implications particularly through purchasing Russian military equipment. In effect, this arms program made Chávez appear on Washington’s SOUTHCOM security radar screen as well as those of neighboring South American nations, especially Colombia.

Military Overseas’ Providers in the Chávez Era

A key facet of the Russian-Venezuelan military partnership has been Chávez’s continued interest in purchasing state-of-the-art Russian weaponry. This process, which can be traced back to 2006, at the same time marked the beginning of Moscow’s active return to the western hemisphere, as its influence in the region continually has spread through various precise spheres (military cooperation, commerce, trade and cultural relations). Meanwhile, Venezuela significantly has linked itself to Moscow and made Russia its most important military arms-provider in the region. This inevitably has fomented a comparison of the Caracas-Moscow relationship with the Havana-Soviet relationship dating back to the origins of the Cold War, even if such a comparison is not entirely warranted.

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